MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Toronto Raptors have had every excuse to give in this season. They've had injuries to key players, turned the roster over significantly with an early season trade and had low expectations after a regime change portended a possible tear down and rebuild.
Kyle Lowry doesn't make excuses. Dwane Casey doesn't make excuses. And the Raptors haven't given an inch while climbing the Eastern Conference ladder.
Lowry had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his fourth career triple-double, lifting the Raptors to a 111-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.
DeMar DeRozan added 25 points and seven rebounds and Steve Novak hit five 3-pointers for the surprising Raptors (35-26), who have won nine of their last 11 games to surge to third place in the East. They are nine games over .500 for the first time since 2006-07.
"We try to keep everybody's spirits high even if it's not going well on the basketball court and we don't let nothing get down on us," said DeRozan, whose team shot 58.3 percent (14 for 24) on 3-pointers. "That's the cool thing about our team. We continue to keep it going."
Kevin Love had 26 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and Nikola Pekovic added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Minnesota has started a crucial four-game homestand with two losses in three games, and the team's hopes of climbing from 10th in the West into the playoff picture are looking bleak.
"We've got to go out and win games we're not supposed to win," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "That's the approach you have to take. If you're going to get down and you start moping about it, you're going to lose again."
The Raptors got some bad news early in the day when they learned Patrick Patterson, a key member of the bench during their post-Rudy Gay trade surge, would miss the next seven to 10 days with a sprained right elbow. But just as they have done over the last two months, the Raptors found someone else to step up.
Novak had played less than 13 minutes over the last month, but he scored a season-high in 18 minutes and Terrence Ross (15), Amir Johnson (15) and Greivis Vasquez (12) all reached double figures in scoring as well to earn a tough road win.
"I can't say enough good things about those guys cause it's going to take all of us, especially with Patrick being out," Casey said.
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